Clubs to benefit as Belgian Pro League and Eleven sign WSC Sports highlights deal

The Belgian Pro League and its international and domestic broadcast partner Eleven Sports have signed a multi-year deal with Israeli company WSC Sports to deliver real-time football highlights for all of the clubs in the top two divisions of Belgian football and all of the league’s distribution partners.

The Pro League, the administrator of the top two football divisions in Belgium, and Eleven agreed the innovative deal as part of the organisation’s Pro League Forward project which aims to build the global visibility of the top-tier Jupiler Pro League and second-tier 1B Pro League.

Under the agreement, clubs and broadcasters will be able to use WSC Sports’ AI-driven technology to publish live highlights and digital content.

A statement from the Pro League said one of the most attractive parts of the deal for Pro League teams was WSC Sports’ ability to provide real-time goal alert videos sent directly to club apps. It said these will play a particularly important role in helping bring fans into the match while stadium restrictions remain in place because of Covid-19 social distancing requirements.

WSC Sports uses machine learning to find the most exciting moments in a sporting event and systematically breaks a match into hundreds of individually tagged packages that can be used to tell a story in different ways. Data points such as the sound of the crowd or the position of a player on the pitch help to categorise a clip and inform decisions about how it is used.

The Israeli company already works with the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Bundesliga and J.League to package highlight clips for social media and localise content for specific audiences. Last December SportBusiness revealed Amazon had also enlisted the company’s services for is debut broadcasting a round of matches in the English Premier League.

Leander Monbaliu, chief business officer of the Pro League said: “Especially in these challenging times, we need to innovate to allow clubs to connect with their fanbase much more. The partnership with WSC Sports will be a key factor for the Pro League’s and clubs’ growth, allowing clubs to substantially increase their domestic and international reach and creating new forms of fan-engagement around their games.”

Guillaume Collard, managing director Eleven Sports Belgium and Luxembourg and head of acquisitions, Eleven Sports Group added: “Football consumption is becoming increasingly fragmented and differentiated. As a sports channel and the new rights-holder of the Pro League competitions, we must respond to this evolution with a varied and innovative offer for the fans. The collaboration with WSC is completely in line with this strategy.

In February, the Pro League voted in favour of a five-year contract with Eleven Sports, covering domestic and international rights to the top two Belgian divisions and worth €103m ($115.4m) per season between 2020-21 and 2024-25.

Antwerp and Gent initially opposed the collective deal but subsequently signed up to support it.

Earlier this month, the Pro League also announced a partnership with Netherlands-based digital and social media agency 433. The agency will work alongside the Pro League on generating and publishing a range of online content promoting the competitions, with bespoke content being created for clubs and players.